Gazing out the window of a high-rise I saw workers on scaffolding on a building across the street. My first reaction was, “That looks like fun. It must be exciting to work above the city.”
My second thought was hanging from a building is a lot like entrepreneurship. It’s risky, thrilling, and can be very rewarding. It may not be your life at risk (like hanging from a building) but rather money, respect, and sanity. And the odds of an entrepreneur failing are much greater than a cable, with multiple redundancies, snapping.
Within a business the scaffolding reminds me of what too many businesses have, and that’s a dependency. The workers suspended above the ground are dependent on the equipment, the maintenance, and other people. If any fail the result can be catastrophic.
The same is true in business, especially small and mid-sized businesses. Too often there’s a dependency on one, two, or three customers, a key employee or two, or the controlling, unwilling to delegate owner.
Often it works out in spite of the dependency. But then it’s time to exit and the buyer worries the cable will snap leaving him with acquisition debt payments but a missing key customer or employee or the (previous) owner, who has too many secret sauce recipes in her head.
Lesson: high-rise scaffolding has redundancies to prevent a disaster and a business’s redundancies are having a diverse customer base, knowledge spread amongst numerous employees, and an owner who’s built a team he delegates to. This is what leads to a high reward.
“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” (Statistician) Nassim Nicholas